Hello there, and welcome to Escape Running! This is the place where running and travel meet and you find that runspiration (yes, that’s a word now) you’ve always dreamed of. Take it from me (I’m Cat, by the way, and I’m a marathon and ultra marathon runner and an absolute run travel addict). I’ve run events all over the world. I’ve packed up my running kit and trained on holiday too (one of the best places was on a beach in Sri Lanka), and I’ve loved every single minute of it.
Here’s a picture of me standing by the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, before I ran under it at mile 25 of the marathon in 2011 and cried at the sheer emotion of running under such an iconic landmark (it’s probably the only photo you’ll see of me on here out of my running kit and not looking very sweaty). For me, this is what running (and exercise in general) is all about. It’s not about running on a dreadmill in a soulless gym, or doing burpees until you nearly puke. It’s about seeing the world, it’s about enjoying exercising (yes, that’s a thing), and it’s about having really, really awesome experiences that you’ll look back on when you’re old and feel pretty damn chuffed about.
And while I’m feeling in the mood to post photos of myself (it doesn’t happen very often), here’s another one of me running the Marrakech marathon. I decided to count camels en route (it was to distract from the fact that my legs were very sore from having run an ultra marathon a few weeks before, but that’s a different story). In case you’re interested, there were 131 in total. Afterwards, I shared my marathon selfies with my husband, while drinking beers on a rooftop terrace overlooking the Atlas mountains, then dined out on the main Djema el Fnaa square, surrounded by the sounds and smells of what is probably the most magical place I’ve ever visited. It really was such a privilege to have to run a marathon there.
I set up Escape Running to help you to have amazing experiences like this too. Maybe you’ve got an exotic race on your bucket list, but you’ve put off entering it because it all seemed like too much to organise. I hear you! Running events in the UK can be daunting (there’s just so much to remember to pack!), let alone with all the added faff of finding suitable flights and hotels, figuring out where the expo is, or if you’ll be able to pick up race essentials in case you forget your trainers or energy gels. Well, here’s were I can help – just download my customisable packing list at the bottom of this page and away you go.
I also offer travel advice with all of my run coaching packages, so can help you build your own dream itinerary. If you’ve been put off by the cost of travelling abroad to run a race, then I can certainly help with that. It really doesn’t have to be expensive. There are some real bargain events out there, and if you plan carefully then you can keep the costs low. I’ve put together all my top tips to help keep the costs of races down, which is available to download below.
In case that wasn’t enough inspiration to convince you to book on the next available flight to your dream race location, then here are five of my favourite events:
1. Seville marathon: This is a super-cheap marathon to enter (although it operates a tiered entry system, so the earlier you enter the cheaper it is), plus Seville is pretty cheap for hotels, travel, food and drink. The race expo and start are really easy to get to from the city centre and there are loads of brilliant bars to grab drinks and tapas in, post race. I wrote a race report about Seville here.
2. Marrakech marathon and half marathon: I know, I know, I’ve mentioned this one already, but it really is the best race-vacation destination; so much so that I’ve run the event three times. While it lacks the creature comforts of other big races (there’s no bag drop or toilets at the start), it’s relatively cheap and I can honestly say that running against a backdrop of the city’s terracotta walls and palm trees is an incredibly special experience. Check out my race report here.
3. Istanbul marathon (and 10 and 15k): This race starts on the Asia side of the city, crossing a massive bridge to the Europe side. So enter this race, and technically you can claim to have run on two continents. Pretty cool, huh? It’s also a great city to have an extended, post-race break in, and soak up the local culture.
4. Kent coastal marathon and half marathon: For a race a bit closer to home, head to Margate for a weekend of sand, sea and … sweat. A small, well-organised race that’s not much more than an hour away from London, with the added bonus of being a great up-and-coming mini-break destination, with great hotels, restaurants and bars popping up before you can say, ‘kiss me quick’.
5. Venice marathon: A completely unique marathon, and a great one to blow the budget on; Venice hosts some fantastic boutique hotels. The race itself is a point-to-point route, starting on the mainland and finishing on Venice Island, with final 10k covering the many Venetian bridges on the Island.